Sweet and salty is a classic, foolproof flavor combination, and nowhere is that more apparent than when serving wine and cheese. “A good pairing is when the sugars in the wine balance the salts in the cheeses,” says Laura Downey, certified cheese professional and co-owner of Fairfield & Greenwich Cheese Company. Here are some matches that area experts love!
Pinot Noir with Burrata
As summer transitions to fall, Ian Toogood, general manager and sommelier at Cotto Wine Bar & Restaurant, in Stamford, CT, starts to think about heartier menu items and which wines pair best. “I love Oregon pinot noirs and red Burgundys; they are not too heavy as to forget summer altogether, but stand up nicely with cold weather dishes,” he says. He also loves barbera d’alba in the fall. “It is not quite as big as a barolo, but it’s time to start thinking about white truffles and there’s no better wine to drink with it.”
Favorite pairing: “With pinots or barbera I love a nice burrata with some prosciutto, or even a younger cheddar,” says Toogood. He also likes a nice truffle pecorino with the barbera. “Milder cheeses are not overpowered by the wines as they are not too tannic,” he notes. “I hold off on the taleggios and stinky blues until winter is in full swing and its time for big cabs and brunellos.”
Try: Ken Wright Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Oregon 2014, $28, Val’s Putnam Wines & Liquors, Greenwich, CT
Italian and West Coast Reds with Creamy Cheeses
“Piedmontese reds from the Ruché, Grignolino, and Pelaverga grapes, as well as Sicilian reds like perricone and nerello mascalese are great for fall,” says Steve Wildy, beverage director for Vetri Restaurants, including Amis Trattoria in Westport, CT. For U.S. options, he likes the valdiguie and gamay wines from the West Coast.
Favorite Pairing: “With lighter Piedmontese reds I often think of wild strawberries, and I love Brie-style cheeses with strawberry compote,” says Wildy. “Beyond French triple cremes and Camembert and the like, the creamy mild robiola family of cheeses from Piedmont doubles as a fantastic regional pairing to each of these wines.” For the deeper, spicier reds of Sicily, he suggests meaty, savory Alpine emmentaler, gruyere, and comte styles.
Try: Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Gamay Noir 2015, $33, Rye Brook Wine & Spirit Shop, Rye Brook, NY
Cabernet Sauvignon with Sheep’s Milk Cheese
Depending on the cheese she’s serving, Downey likes bold red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, an earthy pinot noir or a full-bodied whites like chardonnay, “While you can certainly eat most cheeses all year round, in the fall we look to match cheeses to the season’s fruits and bigger richer wines,” says Downey.
Favorite pairing: Verano is a firm, raw sheep’s milk cheese, produced in the summer and aged for four to six months (making it a perfect fall pick). “Sheep’s milk cheese is slightly higher in fat so Verano will stand up to bigger red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon,,” says Downey.
Try: Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2013 $46 Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market, Fairfield, CT
Photos by: (cheese) Jiri Hera/shutterstock.com